What is Open Access?

It doesn't cost us anything to achieve open access. Open access is therefore making the most of our rights as authors.Associate Professor Alysia Blackham, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne



Open access (OA) is the term applied to research outputs such as journal articles, monographs, and book chapters, that have been made open to everyone. Making your research publications freely available has many benefits, including:

  • A wider audience can access your work, including policy makers, practitioners, the public, and researchers who have limited access to subscription databases;
  • As an author, if you publish OA you typically retain copyright to your work and the rights to reuse; and
  • Studies (most notably Piwowar et al 2018) and resources (COKI Open Access Dashboard) indicate a citation and re-use advantage to open publishing​ compared with closed publishing.

​It is important to plan OA publishing early so you can consider the different factors that will impact on your choice of publication outlet and publisher. Ask questions such as:

  • Is there an appropriate journal in your research area?
  • Is there a fee associated with publishing the article, chapter or book OA?
  • If the publisher route to OA is not feasible, does the publisher allow you to upload versions of your work to an institutional repository? What are the embargo periods? And would this allow you to fulfil any funder OA requirements your work is subject to?

Learn about Associate Professor Alysia Blackham's experience in negotiating with publishers to disseminate more research open access through our institutional repository, Minerva Access.

Types of open access publishing

There are three main open access (OA) publishing models: repository OA; OA journals, books, and proceedings; and hybrid publishing.​

If you choose to publish behind a paywall, it is still possible to make that research OA through use of a repository. This is achieved by making the Accepted Manuscript (AMInfographic about Minerva Access, sometimes referred to as a post-print) available via an institutional or subject repository.​

University of Melbourne researchers are encouraged to deposit their research outputs into Minerva Access (via their Elements account). Minerva Access allows people to discover your research via Google, Google Scholar and other library catalogues. The Minerva Access team will confirm publisher policies before making any file uploaded publicly available.

A benefit of this approach is that there is no financial cost to the author. However, there are limitations to this method. Many publishers impose an embargo period, often between six months to two years, though this can be longer. This also relies on the authors depositing the AM into a suitable repository​.

Further support

​For more information on OA via repositories see the Open Research LibGuide

To discuss subject or institutional repositories please make an appointment with your School Librarian.

Sometimes referred to as 'Gold OA', this covers journals or publishers wherein all content is open access from the date of publication. With this mode of publishing the author may have to pay an article or book processing charge (APC/BPC), though that is not always the case. Of the 15,000+ journals in The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), over 11,000 do not charge an APC. Publishing in an OA journal or with an OA publisher typically allows the author to retain copyright and release the work under a Creative Commons license.

Further support

​For more information on this OA publishing model see the Open Research LibGuide

To discuss pursuing Gold OA publishing please make an appointment with your School Librarian.

Hybrid publishing refers to the publishing model where, by default, articles and book chapters are published behind a paywall, however an author can choose to make their own publication open access by paying an article processing charge (APC).

This publishing model is gradually being phased out due to criticism of ‘double dipping’ as the publisher receives payments from libraries paying a subscription and individual authors paying APCs. Instead, publishers are looking to transition journals from paid-access to fully open access over a set period of time.

The University of Melbourne wishes to limit expenditure on paid open access models where we already have a subscription to the same journals (hybrid journals) and discourages authors from paying APCs to make outputs open access in hybrid journals. Researchers who wish to publish in subscription journals can make their work openly accessible through the deposit of a copy of their work in the institutional repository, Minerva Access.​

Further support

​For more information on hybrid publishing models, see the Open Research LibGuide

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